Germany - Third Reich: An Attack on the Stalin Line Iron Cross 2nd Class and Black Wound Badge, and Kharkov Iron Cross 1st Class Document Group to Feldwebel Paul Stellwagen, 1st Company, 226th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division; later 3rd Company, Infantry Regiment A (Sturt), 182nd Reserve Division; and finally 3rd Company, 848th Grenadier Regiment, 282nd Infantry Division, who saw service in the Campaign in France before seeing service as part of Army Group South on the Eastern Front up until at least June 1943.
A scarce bravery document group consisting of 5 award certificates, a handwritten field post letter, a fascinating Regimental Commander’s combat report for the period 14th July to 12th August 1941 and a Russian bullet which had been removed from Paul Stellwagen’s body after he was wounded on 25th July 1941.
- German Defence Wall Decoration, awarded at Wiesbaden on 20th March 1940 as an Unteroffizier. Signed by Schreiber as Oberst and Commanding Officer 226th Infantry Regiment on behalf of General of the Infantry Officer Steppuln as Commander in Chief in Wehrkreis XII
- The Iron Cross 2nd Class awarded by Divisional HQ on 20th July 1941 as an Unteroffizier, 1/226th Infantry Regiment. Signed by Strecker as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 79th Infantry Division.
Strecker was awarded the Knights Cross on 26.10.1941 as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 79th Infantry Division and the German Cross in Gold on 25.1.1943 as General of Infantry and General Officer Commanding XI Army Corps.
- The Black Wound Badge awarded in the field on 30th September 1941 for a wound received on 25th July 1941 as an Unteroffizier, 1/226th Infantry Regiment. Signed by Kohnert as Hauptmann and Battalion Commander.
- The Black Wound Badge awarded at Wurzburg on 7th October 1941 for a wound received at Kiev on 25th July 1941 as an Unteroffizier, 1/226th Infantry Regiment/Reserve Hospital III. Signed by an Oberstabsarzt and Chief Doctor, Reserve Hospital III Wurzburg.
- The Iron Cross 1st Class awarded by Divisional HQ on 13th June 1943 as a Feldwebel, 3/848th Grenadier Regiment (born 26.7.1914). Signed by Kohler as Generalmajor and General Officer Commanding 282nd Infantry Division.
Kohler was awarded the German Cross in Gold on 26.12.1941 as Oberst and Commanding Officer 488th Infantry Regiment, 268th Infantry Division.
- A typed six page report dated 12th August 1941 written and signed by the Commanding Officer 226th Infantry Regiment, Oberstleutnant von Aulock. It covers the period from 14th July to 12th August 1941 and has been sent to former members of the 226th wishing them well and a good recovery. The report gives an insight into the progress (dates and place names are included) of the Regiment during this period and fives a very good summary description of the heavy fighting and casualties involved. It mourns the death of so many officers and men of the Regiment – names are mentioned.
Oberstleutnant von Aulock was awarded the Knights Cross on 6.11.1943 as Oberst and Commanding Officer 226th Grenadier Regiment, 551st Oakleaves on 16.8.1944 as Oberst and Commandant of the Fortress of St Malo and the German Cross in Gold on 27.10.1941 as Oberstleutnant and Commanding Officer 226th Infantry Regiment.
- A Forces Field Post Letter, handwritten in pencil, dated 18.11.1942 sent by Paul Stellwagen to one of this children - he has signed it ‘your papa’. His unit FP number was 09566/D = 3/Gren Regt A (Sturt) in 182nd Reserve Division. His unit was stationed in the Paris area at the time the letter was written.
Paul Stellwagen was wounded on 25th July 1941 during the very heavy combat which took place as the Regiment was involved in the penetration of the Stalin Line in the Bonderovka area. He was issued with two Black Wound Badge Certificates – one by his Battalion on 30th September 1941 and the second by the Reserve Hospital III Wurzburg on 7th October 1941. The latter certificate would suggest that the wounding was sufficiently serious for him to be returned to Germany to recover. At some time he was obviously operated on and he was given the Russian bullet which had wounded him as a memento of that wounding. This bullet came with this document group.
Paul Stellwagen was born on 26th July 1914, it is most likely that he had done his Armed Forces Reserve Service prior to WW2 when he was mobilised. He would have seen service in the west during the winter of 1939-40 resulting in the award of his West Wall Decoration, after this unit fought in the Lorraine and in the Vosges Mountains during the French Campaign of 1940, it remained in the Longres area in north-eastern France on occupation duty during the winter of 1939-40.
In early 1941 the unit was moved to Klagenfurt, Austria where it prepared for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. Serving as part of Army Group South, 79th Infantry Division of which his Regiment was part, took part in the advance towards Kiev. It was for fighting to the west of Kiev in the attempts to penetrate the Stalin Line that Stellwagen was firstly awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class by Divisional Headquarters on 20th July 1941 and then on 25th July subsequently wounded. Part of the combat report included with this group covers the fighting on 25th July and translates as follows:
‘The Division had to form a bridgehead near Bonderovka. The Regiments 208 and 212 had already pushed through the bunker line in front of Bonderovka. The Regiment had to expand the bridgehead to the north-east and seek contact to the neighbouring Division on the left. The Bonderovka – Honderovka – Huta Road was reached in violent bunker combat. Sometimes up to the hips in the marshes, our brave men stormed against the bunkers, against the fortified field positions and against the cunning enemy in impenetrable woodland. The almost merciless daily thundery showers hammered down on us in the evening.’
It is probably that his wound led to Stellwagen was pulled out of the fighting for his recovery and then placed with the German Replacement Army before being posted to Grenadier Regiment A (Sturt) in France which was used to form 848 Grenadier Regiment which in turn was sent to the Eastern Front (South Russia / Ukraine). It was whilst fighting with this Regiment in the area around Kharkov prior to the battle of Kursk that on 13th June 1943 Stellwagen was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class. It is not known if he survived the war.